Inquiry as an Approach to Life

Inquiry Method™ is not just a technique for interacting with people or addressing deeper personal issues, but also an approach to life in general.

A while ago, I spoke with some teachers who had talked about our minds as ego and emotions. They referred to how our minds are constantly wanting to put things into the categories of good and bad, positive and negative. So, when we are in our minds, we are always interpreting everything around us from this quality of good and bad. When I heard that, I thought to myself that if I dropped the discernment between good and bad and stopped putting things into those categories, then my life would be neutral.

I thought I would test it, so I imagined that I would drop all good and bad and see if life would be neutral. I was very surprised to find that life was far from neutral. When I looked at it from that perspective of the elimination of good and bad, I was aware of just the miracle of life and even the miracle of existence.

The idea that, out of nothingness, all this appeared, that I even exist, the world exists, this planet exists, the universe exists is truly just an incredible miracle.

I began to understand the deeper, maybe religious or spiritual understanding, or even the practical understanding of the true appreciation, gratitude, and experience of life. This is what was so shocking from breaking the habit of putting things into categories of good and bad; I switched into having wonder, awe, and amazement for just being here.

Any time I remember and bring myself to that place again, I am stunned by the existence of my consciousness, the existence of life, the planet, plants and animals, things that happen, things that come into my life. Cars and cell phones, raindrops, everything starts to take on a quality of wonder.

Innocence and wonder are at the heart of the inquiry approach to life. We are so used to focusing on our wantiness and drives and feeling like there should be something more to life; Inquiry Method TM instead guides us to finding a quality of deep appreciation and acknowledgment in life. Because, when I am out of wantiness, neediness, and exchange, I can be present for my day without needing it to be different. And from that place, I can just be curious and engage in life with a sense of wonder.

Wonder is such a beautiful word that combines a sense of curiosity with a sense of awe; awe implying awareness of beauty, awareness of serendipity, awareness of magic, and even awareness of surprise about life.

The Curse of Entitlement

Everything you believe you are entitled to causes you pain and robs you of joy. Lets inquire into this:

Become aware of everything you feel entitled to that you don’t have…this would be anything you are angry about, feel sad about, regret, resent, lack, or need. The only way you would have these feelings is that you feel like you deserve (are entitled to) these things, relationships, and experiences. How do you behave when you feel you need these things? How does your belief in your entitlement affect your happiness?

Now become aware of everything you have that you feel entitled to, possessions, relationships, experiences, money, abundance, food…etc. How does your entitlement affect your experience of these things?

Now imagine you are poor, alone, on the street, you have nothing, you are hungry and cold and you receive one thing out of your home, anything, even just a piece of food from the drawer or clothing from your closet. What do you experience? Lack and need? Joy and gratitude?

When did you become entitled to anything? Who taught you? What is the benefit of your entitlement? How does it serve you?

What would happen to you right now if you lost all of your entitlement to anything and the reality of your life remained unchanged, the only change being you lost all of your entitlement? How would you feel? What would come into your life?

It seems to me losing every bit of my entitlement would a great blessing, the lifting of a curse that stands between me and gratitude and joy. I would not stop doing what I do or working or being with my family or anything but I would do it in a totally different spirit.

Grow Up and Be Happy

I spent a lot of years being unhappy in many ways, about many things. I truly believed in all the great reasons for being unhappy, I had great arguments for my unhappiness that convinced many unhappiness skeptics.

More and more of late I am having difficulty producing any arguments for unhappiness and have come to the conclusion that true adulthood is the arrival at an unwavering acceptance and consequently a pervasive inner happiness. I found myself talking to a group the other day and heard myself say “grow up and be happy”, and I meant it.


Loneliness can be such a poignant factor in modern life; perhaps it developed evolutionarily to keep us in the safety of groups and to bring us together despite the challenge of being part of a group. I suspect that loneliness was not much of a factor in pre-history.

I believe it has become a bigger factor in modern life as we have become more separated from each other and many of us have lost the experience of growing up within a close community; perhaps we yearn for that in some ways.

It’s important that we learn to work with our loneliness because it can deeply affect us mentally, emotionally and even physically. At one level loneliness is asking us to create and participate in community, at this level we must listen to it and use that feeling to overcome the fear and resistance of participating with others. Depending on your personality this may come naturally or with difficulty but we can all learn to practice and develop the ability to connect with others.

On as second deeper level we can work with loneliness by developing a deeper, more accepting, more loving relationship with ourselves; being able to be with and enjoy being with ourselves is a very important capacity. Again depending on your personality this may come naturally or easily but you can still learn this capacity regardless of your personality.

If we are carrying loneliness from the past this will greatly effect our relationship with it; in the present loneliness is not overwhelming, just a sense that we would like to commune with others. If we are carrying the weight of childhood loneliness as emotional pain it can feel very strong indeed. Identifying and letting this go is critical to our well-being and for working with the feelings of loneliness.

Loneliness can also impact our patterns of primary relationships. For example if I find a partner and commit to them to solve my loneliness I have set the foundation for later problems. If I have partnered to fix the problem of loneliness it may feel like it has gone away during the infatuation phase of the relationship, I may have the feeling that my loneliness is solved. However as the relationship evolves over time there will be stages where I will not feel like my partner is “completing me”, fixing my loneliness and I am likely to blame my partner for “not being there for me” or that they have let me or the relationship down.

This resurgence of loneliness may happen as a partner gets more involved in their career or when a child or children are born, or even as the children leave the home. If I have married or bonded to solve my loneliness these changes may bring about conflict and dissolution of the relationship. This process can also extend to other reasons for bonding with another person, if I don’t feel like I am enough, or good enough, or don’t like myself, or… any reason I bond with another to fix a lack in me sets the seeds for the feeling of betrayal or let down in a relationship.

At one level we must learn and grow to be whole within ourselves to cure our loneliness while at another we must let the natural aspect of loneliness guide us to create satisfying bonding relationships with others and participate in community. We all must heal the relationship we have with ourselves so that we can also be with others in a healthy way. In the same way other feelings of lack within us can guide us to cleaning up the other lacks and pains that keep us from feeling whole and interfere with our connection with others.

What do you need to clean up in yourself to be whole within yourself and to fully participate and be with others?


Everything is Waiting for You
-David Whyte

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

— David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press

Sommeliers of Discomfort

The problem that you and I have is that in order to grow we must be willing to look into our discomfort; in fact the guide to our potential is shown to us through our discomfort.

Unfortunately, in our society we have so many ways to avoid our discomfort. Most of the people who come to me have been avoiding discomfort most of their lives, having learned to repress it early in life and in a deep and profound way. This is virtually universally true in us.

The great thing that people find when they begin using Inquiry Method is that there is a huge upside to looking into discomfort, finding the root and the lesson or healing that is waiting inside it. Begin to befriend and experience your discomfort.

When I am working somatically with a person I have them physically feel the discomfort in their bodies, by getting out of your head you can actually experience your discomfort. Most of us avoid our discomfort and experience it as unpleasant thoughts or emotions. If you are willing stop thinking about it and instead, feel the physical experience of it you may find a different relationship with it.

I recommend becoming a connoisseur of your discomfort; begin to explore it as you would explore a great bottle of wine, what are the nuances? This kind of exploration can sometimes lead to a huge breakthrough of understanding and awareness.

On another level, when we stop running from our discomfort we begin to free ourselves from the patterns that running from our discomfort brings. Start watching how your patterns in life develop out of avoiding discomfort. Do these patterns really relieve you or are they more along the lines of covering it up? How does covering up your discomfort affect your life?

14 Days

The future is unknown.  We all love a great mystery; there is suspense, inquiry, discovery and revelation.

We may, at times think our life is static, we may even prefer to think of it in that way as a way of feeling secure, but when we have this approach it is also what we get.

Your life is unbelievably dynamic, on the power of your intent and viewpoint hinges the activity and experience of your life.  If we begin to look into the actual detail and flow of our daily experience it is rich with information, symbolism, and mysteries each of which are portals and opportunities for growth and inquiry leading to a sense of adventure and growth.  No matter how routine your life, life is not static and flat, it is full of rich fields for your exploration.

I love this quality of life; we are all in a context that invites us to grow and deepen.  We are all in a hero’s journey.  Here is a game that may help you see it and experience it.

Take the next 14 days and mark them on your calendar.  Decide you are on an adventure; in these 14 days you will discover something about yourself that you were not aware of before.  For the next 14 days you are going to pay close attention to your life, your relationships, your behavior, opportunities, messages, rumors, portents… because you know that there is something for you to discover that will change your life and improve your sense of well being if you can just see it.  You will not be able to know what it is at the beginning, it will come out of you being present and aware, and most importantly because you are looking.

At first you may just notice something like a pattern in your life or may be like life is trying to tell you something.  You may find yourself resisting the message, you may start questioning yourself; stay present and alert.  Once you know what the mystery is or are aware of the message you are getting you may at first feel anxious or not know how to solve it, you will not know how to resolve the issue or grow into the person who can inhabit this new insight; again be patient, allow the new mystery to be there until insight comes to you… it will; maybe you will see the solution in a book, or it will pop up in conversation, or just come to you when you wake up, who knows, just keep looking and be ready.

Once you get the insight all you have to do is to put it in to action; no need to force, just let the new knowledge or awareness work its way into your life.  Recognition is the key at this point; I had a mystery, I paid attention, I got an insight, I put it in to action, my life has evolved, wow.

Now acknowledge your process and the value of your insight, your life has the capacity to grow, no problem or mystery cannot be tackled in this way.  Empower yourself to keep looking into the mysteries of your life.

Once you get the hang of it you can pay attention to the mystery all of the time, a constant unfolding of new awareness, new insights, new levels of engagement with life, more effective ways of being, more joy, more fun.

Give it a try, 14 days just looking for something, you don’t know what it will be but you are very present and aware, paying attention.